Thursday 9 December 2021

Virtua Cop - Set Guns to "Justice"!

There are thousands of rail shooters out there, and even if there aren’t that many, there are a lot. When you want a shooter that isn’t spilling gouts of blood and gore, there are few as satisfying as Virtua Cop. It is 32-bit polygon action at its very finest. The graphics are ancient and dated, but that’s just a cool breeze of mountain air when it comes to nostalgia and those who remember those beautiful days of squared and triangular graphics. The feeling of moving through construction sites, warehouses and skyscrapers, taking down virtua baddies was never so prominent in bright, blissful colors. You are Virtua City’s finest, and as a cop, you are going to take down virtua scumbags!

The real draw to Virtua Cop is its simplicity and its smooth transition from position to position. It starts out slow, so you can get a good gauge of the action, but then it begins to pull the rug out from under you with how fast you need to react. That’s not to say the game is hard, but we’ll get into that in a moment. For now, all you need to know is that you shoot the bad guys and thugs who point guns at you and come at you with sharp objects and you don’t hit the civilians that pop out in front of you relentlessly.

One small drawback to this game is the innocents will come out and raise their hands randomly, begging you not to shoot them. This is par for the course, no issue there. The real problem is when they do this while you are shooting criminals and they come out of nowhere and you either shoot them, or wait for the split second of them ducking down. This can be done but, wow, is it ever annoying! They’re normally marked with purely white clothing so they stick out from the normal affairs of gunmen, but sometimes they can show up in black and white suits, making the need for hesitation that much more important.

Another drawback to the game is that it is really not hard. There are some difficult aspects and a few frustrating elements to it, but all in all, you would be hard pressed to find it any kinds of extreme. It is also rather short, normally lasting less than an hour for all three difficulties.

The first level is little more difficult than a tutorial. It serves its purpose of giving you the overall gameplay of shooting and reloading while keeping your eye out for the circles that turn red the longer you wait for the bad guys to shoot. It even has some special temporary guns that help with taking down sum bags like the machinegun and the shotgun. The machinegun is understandable because of the increased fire rate, but the shotgun does little more than widen your target range by a small margin.

The boss on the first level is a bit of a joke. Kong is just a big meathead who fires missiles at you with a quad launcher. Shooting him through his missiles is easily done and shooting him when he pretends to surrender doesn’t take much reaction time in the slightest. Needless to say, you’re well suited for the job.

Medium level is as advertised; it is a bit harder. The construction zone is more challenging in the sense that the enemies are farther away, making them smaller targets by default. This is compounded by the fact that they get a little more clever with their hiding places and will sometimes jump out of unexpected locations such as inside crates. They also make a lot of use of the construction equipment such as bulldozers and trucks.

Even if you don’t find the second level harder, it is a lot more interesting to see all of the tricks the enemies pull out in attempting to take you down. This is accentuated when you fight the boss, King (because the joke wasn’t obvious enough). He is a bit harder with faster attacks than Kong with his flamethrower, but he also employs henchmen to attack you as well. Again, he is not overly difficult, but he is a change up from Kong’s gameplay.

In the third level, you are now infiltrating the evil building that holds the evil criminal coporation of evil (It’s even named EVL, because Virtua Cop is awesome). Part of the fun with this one is that the criminals are faster and it is remenescent of those old action films where the hero busts in through their compound and takes out the guards with nothing but a hand gun, some explosives and some explosive one-liners.

Once again, we are reminded HARDCORE of the innocents in this game. They are all over this building, getting directly in your way, sporting business suits. Women and men are popping up everywhere and you need to be extra careful where you aim and how you shoot. It is an office building and that makes sense that there would be a lot of people involved, but the amount they put into this game gets ridiculous.

Moving through the entire compound is an absolute joy. Out of all of the level designs, this one is the most varied since it isn’t a blue collar work zone and there’s more of a variety in the setting. There’s even a nice looking fountain statue right before the boss battle. The boss, cleverly named “Boss”, is the most eccentric battle, due to the fact that he pulls out an entire Mech Suit [!?!] in order to battle you! He is surprisingly easier than King. The mech is slow moving and its weaponry consists of those same missiles and a big huge gun you’ll never see fire because it’s so easy to stop with a few gunshots. Just shoot and take down, easy.

However, if you fought through all three levels in order in one go, you’ll get a bonus battle with the one known as “Fang”. He is in a combat helicopter and he is a bit harder than Boss. Again, this isn’t saying much because he is still pretty easy. Yes, he attacks fast and his helicopter can move from side to side rather quickly but it’s still your normal rail shooter boss battle. Shoot him down as he fires missiles and flames at you and you’re golden.

No one said that Virtua Cop was perfect and I’m not going to try and convince you to love it if you don’t already. There’s a good chance you probably aren’t aware of the joys of bringing an arcade game home without having to pay a pocket full of quarters. For those of you who were fortunate enough to jump into this at a young age when the internet was slow, you probably know what I am talking about. This is the finest quality railshooter on the Saturn, right beside House of the Dead. No Saturn collection is complete without it.

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